Prescription Weight Loss Drugs
Excess weight requires lifelong management. Weight issues are progressive as we age, and frequently excess weight returns. Obesity is a chronic condition that places your health at risk, however, there are various options for managing and treating excess weight. Prescription weight loss drugs are now considered a frontline treatment. Your weight is classified as obese if your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher.
Doctors will prescribe them if you meet this criterion or if it’s at least 27 and you have a condition that may be related to your weight, like type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.
You’ll still need to focus on diet and exercise while taking these drugs, and they’re not for everyone.
The medication semaglutide (Wegovy) received FDA approval for treatment of obesity in 2021. More common prescription weight loss drugs which have been in use longer include: liraglutide (Saxenda), naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave), orlistat (Alli, Xenical), phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia ), and tirzepatide (Mounjaro).
Before you get a weight loss drug prescription, tell your doctor about your medical history. That includes any allergies or other conditions you have; medicines or supplements you take (even if they’re herbal or natural); and whether you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to get pregnant soon.
How it works: Liraglutide is the same drug as the type 2 diabetes drugs Sadenxa and Victoza. It mimics an intestinal hormone that tells the brain your stomach is full.
Approved for long-term use? Yes.
Side effects: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and low blood pressure. Serious side effects can include raised heart rate, pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, kidney problems, and suicidal thoughts. Liraglutide has been shown in studies to cause thyroid tumors in animals, but it is not yet known if it can cause thyroid cancer in humans.
What else you should know: If you don’t lose 4% of your weight after 16 weeks of taking Liraglutide, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it, because it’s unlikely to work for you, the FDA says.